Ski resorts offer free lift tickets

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

Students driving Toyotas can receive free lift tickets as ski resorts look to draw in customers with promising group deals and limited special offers, including Toyota Ski Free Days.

This is the 15th year Ski the Northwest Rockies has approached Toyota Motor Corp. for the promotional deal Toyota Ski Free Days, said Tom Stebbins, Ski the NW Rockies administrator.

Five resorts are offering the promotion and giving out free lift tickets to anyone who owns and drives a Toyota, Scion or Lexus.

Four of the resorts are monitored by Ski NW Rockies, a nonprofit association that represents snow sports in the Inland Northwest. The resorts are: Mt. Spokane, Silver Mountain, 49 Degrees North and Lookout Pass.

The event takes place five Fridays in a row starting Jan. 1 and going until Feb. 27, said Stebbins.

Schweitzer Mountain resort in Sandpoint, Idaho, also made available the Toyota Ski Free Day deal for Jan. 30, according to the resort’s website.

According to Ski NW Rockies, Toyota Motor Corp. representatives will be in the parking lot on the designated days giving out free lift tickets.

To provide proof of ownership to receive the ticket, the vehicle must be driven to the ski resort and the driver must have their registration paper. If multiple people are in the vehicle, only the driver gets the free ticket.

Ski resorts also offer annual group discounts, which Eastern’s EPIC Adventures, an EWU outdoor program focused on introducing students to new activities, take advantage of each season.

The 2015 ski season appeared promising back in fall as Eastern students quickly signed up for EPIC Adventure’s ski trips, said Leah Hillbrand, EPIC Adventures programs coordinator.

Hillbrand said going as a group is cheaper than everyone going alone because they pay for group rates on the lift tickets and they split the cost of hotel rooms.

“This year is not a bad year, it’s average,” said Hillbrand. “Last year started off worse.”

EPIC Adventures’ first trip in 2014 was to Red Mountain, said Hillbrand. The resort had some lifts open but it got warm and the resort gave EPIC Adventures a refund for the last day.

This year’s ski season might have future troubles.

The Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service reported there will be above normal temperatures from February through April for Washington state. The report also shows a possibility for below normal precipitation statewide, especially over the northern mountains of Washington where resorts like 49 Degrees North are located.

The weather is not stopping resorts from trying to draw in attention.

“Like any business, the ski areas look to provide sampling and desire to return to the slopes and thus the promotion,” said Stebbins.